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Triage in the Defence Medical Services
  1. Simon T Horne1 and
  2. J Vassallo2
  1. 1Emergency Department, Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, UK
  2. 2Institute of Naval Medicine, Gosport, UK
  1. Correspondence to Lt Col Simon T Horne, Emergency Department, Derriford Hospital, Plymouth PL6 8DH, UK; Simon.horne{at}


Triage of patients into categories according to their need for intervention is a core part of military medical practice. This article reviews how triage has evolved in the Defence Medical Services and how it might develop in the context of recent research. In particular, a simple model demonstrates that the ideal sensitivity and specificity of a triage system depends upon the availability of transport and the capacity of the receiving units. As a result, we may need to fundamentally change the way we approach triage in order to optimise outcomes—especially if casualty evacuation timelines become longer and smaller medical units more prevalent on future operations. Some pragmatic options for change are discussed. Finally, other areas of current research around triage are highlighted, perhaps showing where triage may go next.

  • Education & Training (see Medical Education & Training)
  • Accident & Emergency Medicine

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